Kingsley Nwezeh in Abuja
A former Head of State, General Yakubu Gowon (rtd) saturday recalled how a former Chief of Defence Staff, General Domkat Bali (rtd), averted a last minute genocide hours before the end of the Nigerian Civil war.
Speaking at Bali’s 80th birthday in Abuja, Gowon said his loyalty and discipline saved the lives of hundreds of civilians by standing down the last assault planned to take place a day before the war ended.
Three million people died during the three years long war most of whom were of the Igbo extraction in a war largely considered a genocide.
Gowon, who did not mention the particular military operation at the time, disclosed that he called Bali and instructed him to cancel the operation after preparations were concluded for the final onslaught and he obeyed without any argument.
Bali was artillery commander during the civil war years and Minister of Defence between 1984 to 1990 as well as a former chief of defence staff.
He said: “We owe Domkat Bali a lot for averting what would have been a genocide by the Nigerian Army during the civil war.
“His loyalty and discipline saved the lives of hundreds of civilians who would have died in the final onslaught planned to take place 24 hours before the war ended.”
He stated that he “called him and gave him the instruction to stand down, he obeyed without any question and that was how the war ended on no victor no vanquished note.”
Gowon further described Bali as faithful officer who rose through the ranks to the pinnacle of the military profession.
In his goodwill message, the Chief of Defence Staff, General Gabriel Olonisakin, described the celebrant as the icon of the military profession who had made great sacrifice in the development of the Nigerian Armed Forces.
President Muhammadu Buhari represented by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Mr. Boss Mustapha, described Bali as a general who served the country selflessly and deserves to be celebrated.